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SaludToday Guest Blogger
Susan Fisher-Owens, MD, MPH, FAAP, Campaign for Dental Health
To eat healthy and nutritious foods, it helps to have healthy teeth! Did you know that your child’s doctor can help with that?
Hispanic children have more tooth decay in their baby teeth and permanent teeth than white non-Hispanic children. And that decay is more likely to be more severe and to go untreated.
The good news is that it’s easy to protect teeth. Fluoride, in the form of fluoridated toothpaste, fluoridated water and fluoride varnish, works to not only prevent dental caries, but even to reverse early signs of decay.
Here is what you need to know.
Fluoride varnish is a concentrated form of toothpaste that is brushed onto your child’s teeth by someone working in the doctor’s office. It is recommended for children starting when their very first teeth come in. It can be applied to baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, up to three times a year in the medical office. Both primary teeth and permanent teeth can be varnished. It is especially important for children who are already having problems with their teeth or who don’t have a dentist. Fluoride varnish is also available in the dentist’s office where they can clean the teeth and provide additional information about keeping teeth healthy.
Fluoride toothpaste should be used when brushing twice a day. For children under age 3, the toothpaste should be the size of a small grain of rice. For children over 3, it can be the size of a small pea. In general, “kids’ flavors” are discouraged since they are easily mistaken as a treat to eat. More tips for brushing your children’s teeth can be found here.
Water with fluoride protects teeth, especially when it replaces sugary drinks like juice and soda. About 75% of American drinking water has fluoride. Most bottled water does not have fluoride in it. If it does, it will say so on the label. Many bottled waters are filled from local water supplies, and some of those sources may be fluoridated. But if fluoride was not added as part of the bottling process, it will not appear on the label. To be sure, call the number on the label for more information. Families who drink bottled water could be missing the preventive benefits of fluoride in tap water.
You can find more information here.
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